Pedro has to be better

Once they acquired Pedro Martinez, the Phillies owed it to themselves to find out. Once that was established, they owed it to the team to adjust the starting rotation in the manner that best allowed the team to win -- which meant that Jamie Moyer was the odd man out. Most everybody seems to agree with that.

But it's funny. The expectations on Martinez seem so low that 3 earned runs in 5 innings is seen by most people as swell, even though 3 earned runs in 5 innings is just what Moyer was giving them, and just what saddled him with the worst ERA among qualified starting pitchers in the National League.

Pedro's ERA: 5.40.

Jamie's ERA: 5.47.

All of which means that Pedro has to be better or this makes no sense.

We should know in about 2 weeks, about two or three more starts. Because there were things to like about Martinez, particularly the fastball that had more life than expected. If he can sustain that, the Phillies might have something here -- and that is the biggest question. Martinez struggled a lot with his command on Wednesday night against the Cubs, but you have to think that has a decent chance of straightening itself out with more work.

The problem isn't the 3 earned runs -- it's the 5 innings. They need to get Martinez to a point where he can give them 6 innings consistently, 6 innings or more. The pattern in his brief Phillies career, in the minors and the majors, has been established. First time: four good innings, tired in the fifth and allows some runs. Next time: five good innings, tired in the sixth and allows some runs. Wednesday: four good innings, tired in the fifth and allows some runs.

The pattern needs to be broken, obviously. The good thing is that Martinez says he feels completely healthy -- and, again, that the fastball is starting in a good place. But if he cannot break the pattern, if he cannot get them through 6 innings in good order, there will need to be a decision made. Because it does need to be better than Wednesday night.

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